Lyft drivers don't have to worry about being fully replaced by the company's autonomous vehicles just yet. Company president John Zimmer told CNBC that Lyft intends to operate a hybrid network at first, with a fleet that's largely comprised of non-autonomous cars. "[J]ust like what happened with phones, you didn't have 3G go to 4G go to 5G on separate networks," Zimmer explained."You still needed to be able to make a 3G call when 4G wasn't available." And similar to when LTE was new and mobile users mostly had to connect to the internet via 3G, Lyft passengers will also largely have to rely on rideshare drivers.
Zimmer envisions a network wherein autonomous vehicles will only be taking five percent of all trips at first, with rideshare drivers taking the lion's share of the rides booked through the platform. Lyft plans to scale up its autonomous rides with its partners, though, so those percentages will keep shifting in the future. The company has been testing self-driving rides in Las Vegas since at least 2018 with its partner Motional, which is a joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai. In 2020, Lyft announced that it intends to bring fully driverless cars to multiple US cities by 2023.
Lyft also has an existing partnership with Ford, and they're currently testing the latter's Argo-AI powered cars — with no human safety driver behind the wheel — on Miami and Austin roads. In addition, the company teamed up with Waymo to pick up customers in the metro Phoenix area back in 2019.